Climate Policy

The aim of the Climate Policy Program is to support the transition from a financially extractive, fossil fueled economy to equitable, democratic and local living economies.  Because we understand climate disruption as a consequence of our broken economic system, and as a major factor exacerbating race, class, gender, and other forms of inequality, we look for root causes and promote solutions at the intersection of both the economic and climate crises.

We organize our work around the premise that to solve the climate crisis, we must confront systemic economic, social and racial inequality, both  in the U.S. and worldwide. We provide long-term vision and bold ideas in domestic and international policy spaces, using research, writing and strategic conversations to redefine what is politically possible.

The Climate Policy Program is currently focused primarily on the United States because of the urgent challenges, and opportunities, that have emerged in recent years. The U.S. has the highest per capita carbon emissions of any country, and is now led by an Administration that denies climate change and has begun recklessly reversing progress in reducing carbon emissions at home and internationally. The U.S. has also been at the forefront of “extreme extraction” such as fracking and mountaintop-removal coal mining. At the same time, the U.S. has seen a surge of brave and inspiring climate activism led by affected frontline communities, such as the struggles around the Keystone XL and Dakota Access Pipelines.

Both domestically and internationally, we seek to nurture deep relationships with grassroots organizations and networks and to align our efforts with the goals of social, economic and environmental justice movements. The project’s current work, led by Basav Sen focusing on the domestic policy work, and with Associate Fellow Oscar Reyes focusing on the international work, includes:

  • Promoting effective, just climate solutions at the state and local level. While national level change becomes harder, we work with grassroots groups and movement leaders to envision and define state and local policies that advance a ‘just’ transition to a new economy, and provide research and proposals to break down policy barriers and uplift solutions that reduce inequality while mitigating greenhouse gas emissions and promoting community resilience. By sharing stories and models of success, we aim to shift the culture of the climate movement beyond ‘carbon fundamentalism’ to one that embodies systemic change through concrete alternatives.
  • Increasing awareness and debate about the intersections of climate change and inequality. Climate change is caused by an economic model that values the short-term financial gain of a few over the rights of most of humanity, and especially indigenous peoples, people of color, and poor people. For resistance to the “dig, dump, and burn” economy to be truly effective, it has to confront the root causes that drive this economic model. No amount of tinkering around the edges or technological “fixes” are going to reverse climate change effectively. We aim to amplify the narrative of the necessity for systemic change through research and writing that illuminates the linkages between climate change and systemic racism, anti-immigrant ideology, and economic inequality.
  • Countering false populist narratives and false solutions. In the United States, we are confronted with a government that uses false promises of renewed growth in fossil fuel jobs to divide and confuse people and divert attention from their true agenda of giving the fossil fuel oligarchy license to profit by poisoning the air, water, and land, and violating the rights of frontline communities. Likewise, both in the U.S. and worldwide, we see dirty and dangerous technologies such as nuclear energy, trash incineration, biofuels, and big dams being promoted as “carbon free” energy solutions, ignoring the very real harm they do to the environment and to the most marginalized people. We work to effectively counter these false populist narratives and false solutions in the public debate around climate change.

Latest Work

This Is a Climate Emergency. We Need More Than Half-Measures from Democrats.

How to get the Democrats’ climate policy from “better than the Republicans” to “sufficient to save the planet.”

Key Oil and Gas Pipelines Are on Their Last Legs — That’s Good News

A systematic program of investment in renewables and energy efficiency will create many more jobs than pipelines and pose far less threat to life on our planet.

Decriminalize Fare Evasion

You don’t go to jail for missing a highway toll. It shouldn’t be any different for fare evasion on public transportation.

Democrats Need Both Climate and Jobs at the Center of COVID-19 Recovery

Across the globe, policies once dismissed as impossible have been implemented. To get America out of its post-pandemic slump, bold thinking is essential.

Cyclone Amphan Is a Warning for the United States

The storm ravaged India and Bangladesh all the worse because of social and economic inequality. The same, or worse, could happen here.

Protect, Repair, Invest, and Transform

Why the IPS Climate Policy Program Supports a People’s Orientation to a Regenerative Economy.

Change Finance, Not the Climate

How to get money out of fossil fuels — and into a Green New Deal.

Coronavirus Denial and Climate Denial Have One Thing in Common: Greed

Despite 100,000 confirmed US coronavirus deaths, powerful economic interests are fighting to reopen the country prematurely — no matter the cost to workers.

Fossil Fuel Bailouts Are Class War. This Is How We Fight Back

When it comes to distributing financial support, the federal government should be propping up those who need it most.

Congress: Public Transit Is Essential. It Needs Emergency Funding Now.

The IPS Climate Policy Program is joining over 70 other organizations to call for increased federal funding for public transit.

Congress: Put Workers and Communities First, Not Corporate Polluters

The IPS Climate Policy Program and 339 other organizations are calling on Congress to support ordinary people through this crisis, not the fossil fuel industry.

COVID-19 ‘Shock Doctrine’ Has Begun

We need a collective response to the coronavirus crisis to bring out the best of humanity.

Cruel Immigration Policies Make the Pandemic Worse

Warehousing people in unsanitary conditions and then deporting them to poor countries is a recipe for contagion.

Don’t Use Coronavirus to Bail out Oil and Gas Companies

The fossil-fuel industry’s problems were self-inflicted, and it’s barreling us toward the next crisis.

Five Ways Using Stimulus Funds for Energy Efficiency Would Reduce Inequality and Protect the Planet

Any economic stimulus package must include an initiative to retrofit homes and public buildings for low-income communities and communities of color.

Why the Trump-Modi Friendship Is So Dangerous

India is tilting toward fascism with U.S. backing. That’s not just dangerous for Indians — Americans should beware, too.

When It Comes to Sustainability, Amazon Delivers… Greenhouse Gas Emissions

Amazon profits from helping oil and gas companies destroy the planet more frugally. Jeff Bezos’ $10 billion climate fund must be viewed in this context.

Dear Countries at the Madrid Climate Talks, We’re a Rogue Superpower. Sanction Us, Please.

Responsible world governments could publicly shame the US government for its climate policies, with sanctions to follow if we don’t step up our game.

Most Americans Support Phasing Out Fossil Fuels. Isn’t That Worth a Headline?

The Washington Post downplayed the most hopeful findings of their own poll on climate action, so we highlighted those findings for them.

Crony Capitalism Can’t Save Coal Country

What coal country needs is a just transition from a corporate-controlled extractive economy to a community-driven Green New Deal.